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Dennis looks to revive Bears

LEETONIA–While serving as one of Randy Montgomery’s assistants at West Branch for the last four seasons, veteran basketball coach Dan Dennis found himself wanting to take the reins of his own program again.

“Coaching with Randy, I started to get the urge again to be a head coach,” Dennis said. “I wanted to be my own boss. When Randy wound up resigning at the end of last season, I decided to see what was out there.”

Dennis thinks he has found the right fit at Leetonia.

The school named Dennis as its new boys basketball coach last week. Dennis, a 1962 graduate of West Branch, brings over 45 years of teaching and coaching experience to the table.

His head coaching experience includes Malvern boys from 1972-80, Beaver Local girls from 1990-93 and Sandy Valley girls from 1997-99. He also has been an assistant at Crooksville, West Branch, New Philadelphia, Walsh University and Alliance. Dennis was a boys varsity assistant at West Branch from 2015 to this past season.

“It feels really good to be a head coach again,” Dennis said. “So far its been a lot of fun, I’ve really enjoyed the kids at Leetonia.”

Dennis said that following his interview with Leetonia, he felt strongly that it was the right place for him.

“I was really sold by the interview committee,” Dennis said. “I thought they asked all the right questions and were very thorough. Their view of the program lined up with what I wanted to do.”

Dennis loses four seniors from a team that went 3-20 a season ago. In the early going, he has been appreciative of the energy and enthusiasm shown by those coming back.

“We has 22 kids show up for our first session the other day,” Dennis said. “They have been willing to listen and are very easy to work with. The effort has been there from the start, which you love to see as a coach. They want to work hard and are eager to get better.”

When the Bears take the court in the fall, Dennis is hoping to have a team that can get out and run at every opportunity.

“You have to match your offense and defense match your personnel, but my preferred style is to get out and run,” Dennis said. “I love to push the tempo on offense and press on defense.”

Dennis knows he inherits a program in need of rebuilding, but is fully committed to helping the Bears turn things around.

“One of my biggest takeaways from coaching with Randy at West Branch was an appreciation for the process that it takes to turn a program around,” Dennis said. “It requires a lot of time and effort. There is no quick overnight fix.”